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Commission expects approval of SBC deregulation

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two of the state's three Corporation Commissioners say they're prepared to vote in favor of a proposal that would exempt SBC Communications Inc. from most price controls in Oklahoma.

Commissioners Denise Bode and Jeff Cloud voted in support Friday of a proposal that would free SBC from commission price controls except for a preset price floor. The vote was only symbolic because Commissioner Bob Anthony was absent. Commissioners plan to formalize the final order Thursday, when Anthony is expected to return.

The order would mean SBC's ``intrastate retail telecommunications services,'' including local residential phone service, would be declared competitive.

``I want to take the opportunity of saying that I fully support the order as written and vote that way today, at least symbolically,'' Bode said.

``I wanted to go ahead and get on the record our vote, and I do vote that way and I will not change my vote next Thursday.''

As part of the order, San Antonio-based SBC must upgrade its facilities at every central office in Oklahoma to provide the capability for high-speed Internet. In a news release, SBC said it will immediately begin deploying digital subscriber line, or DSL, service in 68 Oklahoma communities and will have 100 percent of its 208 Oklahoma switching offices equipped for DSL by July 2007.

SBC competitors claim the commission will unleash a predatory monopoly on the state that has virtually no competition, despite SBC's claim it is losing subscribers to cable, wireless and telephone resellers.

``It basically gives a company with dominant market power free reign to do what they want without oversight,'' said Dave Bialis, vice president and region manager for Cox Communications in Oklahoma.

Bode and Cloud both emphasized that SBC remains under commission regulation with safeguards to ensure competition and price restraints.

``We can undo it if we determine there has been market failure,'' Cloud said.
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